The Top 10 Players the Raptors Should Target in the 2009 NBA Draft
However, once one factors in the news regarding Pops Mensah-Bonsu's likely departure, the uncertainties regarding Kris Humphries and the potential departure of Bosh via trade, the Raptors look terribly thin up front.
In any case, the draft represents one of four opportunities the Raptors will have to seriously reshape last year's disappointing roster and will have to decide which holes they'll plug via free agency, a potential Bosh trade, a potential Shawn Marion sign and trade and which prospect's name they'd like Stern to call in June.
The word around most Raptor fans is that the team needs a shooting guard in the worst way and this draft will provide them in bunches.
However, if Colangelo is targeting a shooting guard via free agency or a potential trade, this draft presents its share of interesting point guards and big men as well.
The following is a listing of ten prospects the Raptors should give a very good look at, and where they'll likely be drafted.
Some of these players will be drafted ahead of the ninth spot and the Raptors would have to trade up a few spots to nab them.
Others will be available later in the first round and could be had by utilizing the money acquired in the Jermaine O'Neal trade to buy a draft pick as team's prepare for a declining economy.
10. Danny Green 6'6 - SG/SF - North Carolina
Green has a chance to stick around in the league for a very long time. He has great role player potential and is an amazing catch and shoot player. Such players excel in the run and gun style Colangelo and Triano are hoping to implement next season.
He'll likely be available at the end of the first round or the very beginning of the second round. While it'd be very ambitious to project him as a starter, his wingspan and shooting ability make him worthy of a serious look from the Raptors.
Range- Late First-Early Second
9. Victor Claver 6'10 SF/PF - Spain
NBA teams generally scout well in big basketball countries like Serbia and Spain and this makes Claver falling past the late first round very unlikely. While any team that drafts him will likely have to wait for a few seasons for him to come over, his potential is second to few in this generally weak draft.
If the Raptors are worried about hurting their cap space but want to acquire a solid player towards the end of the first round, Claver could end up a very worthwhile investment in the long run.
He's already developing a very good catch and shoot game while being a very good finisher around the rim. If he fills out, he could be a mismatch nightmare in a few seasons. The key is his health.
Range-Late First- Early Second
8. Earl Clark - 6'9 SF/PF - Louisville
Early buzz around Clark is that he might see his stock drop due to concerns regarding his mental makeup. If he falls past the Bulls at 16, the Raptors would be wise to roll the dice on the forward.
He's got the potential to be scary good and you can't say that for more than five other players in this draft. This draft will be rich in role players, but in Clark, the Raptors could grab a potential starter. At 17 and beyond, that is excellent value despite the red flags.
He possesses a very high skill to size ratio, and Colangelo has noted numerous times that this was a very important factor in his draft process. In terms of size to skill ratio, Clark is likely second only to Gonzaga forward Austin Daye.
Range: Late Lottery- Mid First Round
7. Tyler Hansborough 6'9 PF - North Carolina
Hansborough's college success should be taken with a grain of salt when actually projecting what type of success he'll see as pro, but certain elements of his game translate quite well.
He's not as short as originally thought to be, he's a winner with solid toughness and a competitive edge, he fits very well chemistry wise in Toronto and he provides post scoring.
He's got great role player potential and could have a very long pro career if he lands in the right situation.
His concerns defensively shouldn't be taken lightly as it'll be even more of a problem for him at the next level. However, his overall package makes him worth a look if the Raptors grab a pick in the twenties and especially if they've already decided that Bosh is headed out. He would be a fan favorite from day one.
Range- Mid First Round- Late First Round
6. Sam Young 6'6 SF - Pittsburgh
Young might provide the Raptors with what they lack most; a solid perimeter defender.
He's by no means young, but as with Tyler Hansborough, he's NBA ready, and perhaps in the current economy, it helps to have instant production from players on rookie contracts instead of having to wait a few seasons.
Young fits in very well to the Raptors roster if Marion is gone and actually provides some of the same things.
He's a solid athlete and rebounds at a high rate. He can play the three and four but will more likely be asked to play on the wing due to the fact that he's undersized at a shade over 6'5.
Range- Late First Round
5. Terrence Williams SG/SF - Louisville
Another senior, Williams actually has the potential to be a very good NBA player. The problem with him is strictly the space between his ears. He will likely drive his coaches nuts on the next level, and if we're talking skill, he's more or less as well-rounded as Tyreke Evans.
Much like Evans, he's got a spectacular wingspan which allows him to get into the passing lanes and he rebounds at an unheard of rate. If every rookie was given starters minutes next season, I'd bet my house that Williams would be the first to record a triple double. If he slips past 17, the Raptors should look to pick him up.
Range- Late Lottery-Mid First Round
4. Tyreke Evans - 6'6 PG/SG/SF - Memphis
With the success J.R Smith has seen this season, NBA GM's could be giving a very good look at Evans. He's got the potential to be an All Star level talent in this league.
The problem with Evans is mainly that he already thinks he is one. Expect a lot of Michael Beasley-like "I'm going to lead the league in scoring" type statements.
He doesn't deal well with differing and seems to flourish when he's in total control of the ball. Sadly, he neither has the skill level, nor the maturity to handle such a role on the next level. How he deals with that reality will likely be the deciding factor regarding if he's Tyreke Evans the All Star or Tyreke Evans D-League MVP.
He has to wind up in the right situation and playing under Jay Triano and the ever-passive Bosh would be just about the worst place an ego like Evans could end up. He needs to wind up on a veteran team with a stern coach.
That said, I highly doubt he slips past Golden State and New York at seven and eight respectively.
Range- Mid-Late Lottery
3. Jonas Jerebko 6'9 SF/PF - Italy
Defense and toughness with an amazing work ethic is a wonderful combination to find in the second round. Jerebko has the potential to stick in the NBA for a long career if he finds a team willing to develop him.
Having met him, he's an excellent person off the court and would fit the Raptors criteria for quality character guys.
As a player on the court, Jerebko has been able to improve tremendously and truly has an NBA body. Overall, Jerebko is playing against the same competition Bargnani played against at a similar age, and is doing very well.
He possesses a sixth sense on the court and seemingly never loses his composure. He also has an excellent set of intangibles.
Range: Early-Mid Second Round
2. Austin Daye 6'10 SF/PF - Gonzaga
Austin Daye is probably if not the most, then the second most talented player in this draft class. Think Kevin Durant light. Sadly, if you think Durant has weight issues, you haven't seen Daye. His weight is bordering on anorexia and it holds the rest of his game back.
He's a great shooter and has a very solid all around game. Due to his freakish physical attributes for a wing player, he also gets a ton of blocks every game. His numbers thus far in his college career are nothing spectacular but he plays on an extremely deep team and one that barely uses him.
While Daye might be a tremendous risk and reach at nine considering his weight issues and possible red flags regarding work ethic and his motor, he could wind up the best player in this draft in five years.
GM's will have to do the due diligence and give him a very close look. Early reports suggest that the Raptors are extremely impressed with him and would look to acquire a pick in the twenties to pick him up.
However, in such a mediocre draft, it'd be hard to fathom him falling out of the top sixteen.
Range- Late Lottery-Mid First-Round
1. Demar DeRozan 6'6 SG/SF - USC
DeRozan has All-Star stamped on his forehead. He has every tool in the world to succeed on the next level and the toughness and drive to put those tools to use. If we're talking potential, DeRozan has more than any player in this draft including Blake Griffin. He has no limitations at all.
He is a hard worker, good kid off the court, has a better than advertised handle, rebounds well, is as physically gifted a prospect as we've seen in years, and has the desire to get better.
Compton is becoming famous for producing NBA players and DeRozan could be the best one yet.
I have a secret suspicion that he's going to separate himself from the cluster of wing players in private work outs and some team will take him before six.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Raptors are giving him a very hard look considering he's one of the only names the Raptors have never mentioned.
For those who think Colangelo's transparency in 2006 with Bargnani is an indication that he's actually up front about his desired prospects isn't factoring that when teams have the first pick, they focus on selling the pick to their fan base as opposed to playing a poker match with the other 29 teams.
Perhaps the Raptors and Knicks are trying to throw off teams with the hype around Curry and Dejuan Blair that they've created. One thing is for sure. DeRozan will not slip out of the top 10. Whether he'll be around when the Raptors select is still uncertain.
Range- Early-Mid Lottery
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